Cruel poachers who targeted hares near Bridlington appear at court

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Cruel poachers who initially claimed they were just walking their lurchers have been dealt with at court.

Eleven men in total appeared at Beverley Magistrates' Court, charged with hare coursing in fields near Bridlington.

Eleven men accused of hare coursing near Bridlington appeared at Beverley Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (March 16).

Eleven men accused of hare coursing near Bridlington appeared at Beverley Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (March 16).

None were from the East Yorkshire area, and one had travelled around 140 miles from Market Harborough to senselessly kill hares.

During a police interview, one man even claimed he was simply allowing his dog to relieve itself.

But three of the defendants changed their pleas to guilty after initially professing they were innocent.

Martin Grey, 35, of Rochdale and William Bridge, 33, of Stourport-on-Severn, were both fined £150, ordered to pay a £30 surcharge plus £85 costs and were slapped with three-year Criminal Behaviour Orders.

Humberside Police stock footage of hare coursers.

Humberside Police stock footage of hare coursers.

James Rooney, 19, of Market Harborough and Edward Price, 28, of Rochdale both received 12-month conditional discharges and £20 surcharges.

Craig Dugdale, 27, of Bishop Aukland, received a £150 fine, £30 surcharge, £85 costs and a Criminal Behaviour Order for three years.

Chris Blood, 28, of Bishop Auckland and Dominic Barlow, also from Bishop Auckland, both received £200 fines, £30 surcharges, £30 costs and three-year Criminal Behaviour Orders.

Three other men pleaded not guilty and their cases will be heard at a later date. The case against another man was adjourned.

District Judge Fred Rutherford said Barlow, Blood and Dugdale were walking in fields at Fraisthorpe on December 11, when police stopped them.

He said: "As you will see in this report, one of these gentlemen - Mr Barlow - is said to have made admissions."

Prosecuting, Sally Robinson, said she wanted to impose Criminal Behaviour Orders on all three men, which would ban them from entering the Humberside Police Force area.

The men declined to plead guilty, but changed their mind after court adjourned for a short while.

Judge Rutherford told them: "Gentlemen, if you didn't know before, you do know now how serious the issue is in this area with regard to visitations of people who come for hare coursing and similar pursuits.

"Not only is that frowned upon, but it is the harassment it causes the landowners from this area with regard to such visitations."

Appearing in the dock as a second batch of three, Rooney, Grey and Bridge also admitted to hare coursing.

Rooney was deemed to have played "secondary" role in the hare coursing, because he did not bring a dog with him.

Those that were handed a criminal behaviour order are barred from enter the Humberside Police force area for three years, except for travelling to or from the ferry terminal at Hull or traveling to and from Humberside Airport.

Speaking after the hearing, Humberside Police Force wildlife and rural crime officer, Julie Turrell, said: “Hare coursing remains a major problem in our area during the winter months.

"It is with increased patrols by the wildlife and rural crime officers and the help of local people being our eyes and ears and reporting these crimes that we can catch people in the act and bring them to justice.”

The manager of the Antisocial Behaviour Team at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Nigel Brignall, said “The East Riding of Yorkshire Council fully support action taken to protect our rural communities and will continue to work with colleagues at Humberside Police to ensure people who choose to come to the East Riding to behave in this manner are stopped from doing so in the future.”